Airline Fuel and Insurance Surcharge (YQ)

Discussion in 'Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer' started by noidea, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. noidea

    noidea Junior Member

    Feb 12, 2012
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    0
    Hi,

    I'm sorry my first post is a bit of a rant (but really also a call for advice) and I'm sorry if I sound a little naive or ignorant but I'm quite new to redeeming mileage on international flights. I've only ever redeemed points for domestic flights and not very often! We did a big mixed class europe trip a few years ago on SQ and got around 60,000 miles in return. They were about to expire and we had always planned to use them so after doing a bit of calculation I decided to transfer 200,000 of my amex points over to krisflyer to book our family (2 adults, 1 child and an infant) a trip to LAX. Just went to book the flights and was hit with the extra surcharges of $2974.06 (2 adults, 1 child). The majority of this is the YQ surcharge...WHAT THE? I'm kicking myself for not hitting the 'continue' button to find out the surcharges before I transferred my 200,000 points from amex. I worked in the travel industry many years ago and I knew we'd be hit for the airport taxes etc but was not expecting anything like this. Are these surcharges only levied on award fares? I don't understand how they can get away with this? I can get a return ticket for $1111 on Virgin Australia at the moment (I get there's a difference in standard between the 2) or pay $991 in 'surcharges' on SQ to fly an extra 8 hours and 'costing' me 260,000 miles...that's $200,000 I spent on amex...to save $120 per person for a much longer/more painful flight. Am I missing something?


    Does anyone have any tips on where/how we could use our krisflyer points to avoid such high surcharges? We really didn't want to spend $3000 on flights...in fact the only reason we were going was because we thought we weren't going to have to pay anything except the taxes for the flights and we didn't want to 'waste' the 60,000 points we had..

    Thanks for listening...


    arrgh I'm so depressed and angry....I just don't understand how they can justify this...
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  2. The Rok

    The Rok Established Member

    Jan 11, 2011
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    Try burning them on virgin Australia?
     
  3. anat0l

    anat0l Enthusiast

    Dec 30, 2006
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    Almost all airlines around the world charge YQ (fuel surcharges). Some other airlines in-line the charge into their fare construction so it doesn't appear as a separate line item, YQ.

    Where the YQ is a separate charge, it is usually segmented away from the base fare. Hence, since award flights usually only replace the base fare and not any other items not covered in the base fare, YQ is dragged into the award seat calculation.

    The level of YQ is not consistent (unlike standard government charges) and each carrier charges a different amount for YQ. Some like to vary the base fare a lot to boost up the YQ (so same "spot" fare but different allocation, which has downstream implications for award flights). In Europe, it's not unusual for intra-Euro fares to have a very small base and a high YQ.

    How do they justify this? I don't know - but YQ itself is a topic of intense and very heated debate (every view and argument from "it's justified because of the volatile cost of fuel", to "you need fuel to run an airline, why should it be a surcharge and not a base-fare object", to "it's highway robbery and someone in the airline should be literally dragged out into the street and shot to pieces").

    In your case, what kind of award were you trying to book? (That is, what routing, which airlines, etc.) From your post, it seems you are flying 2 lots of SQ flights (one to Singapore, I assume, then an onward flight to LAX - assuming this is the one going via NRT). SQ YQ charges are typically quite high from common experience - the fact you are flying two SQ flights means that SQ get you on both the to-SIN flight and the to-LAX flight (and back again, of course). The rules for child and infant fares vary from region to region (i.e. depending on where you are flying), and also vary on whether the discount is applied to the entire fare or just the base fare (i.e. in some cases a child is charged a percentage of the base fare but all other taxes/fees/surcharges are at full cost). In some cases, there are no discounts in points for child awards, and they also pay full surcharges, which may include YQ.

    If your final destination is LAX, then understand that competition is so fierce on the Trans-Pacific route that given the SQ YQ is so high, it is not surprising that you came to the comparative conclusion that you did. In peak times, perhaps your award may pay off, i.e. if Virgin (or any other carrier on the same market) didn't have fares at $1111 return. If it were much higher....

    One idea: have you considered an award on Air New Zealand (i.e. a fellow Star Alliance carrier)? You can use your KrisFlyer miles to redeem for Air New Zealand flights, though I'm not sure how much the YQ would be (my guess it should be much less than SQ due to NZ operating the flight, and your using a much more direct route). I'm not sure of the mileage cost either (Star Alliance awards may or may not be more than the equivalent of the Singapore Airlines table, so you may come out a bit short).


    In general with KrisFlyer, you're not going to get away from YQ. If you must redeem your points on SQ, try to redeem for a higher class than Economy where you will pay the same YQ+other surcharges but at least your points cost (though higher) will feel better spent (due to the higher differential between Economy and higher classes). Also consider the other Star Alliance airlines and redeeming awards with them. Try for destinations which are not typically the subject of sales; these destinations will nominally have higher fares which makes you feel like your points are better spent (and because the alternative - buying those fares in cash - is much more expensive and worth the points redeemed). I've heard that award flights on KrisFlyer within Asia or the South Pacific are good value, especially in Business class (again, not sure about YQ but your points can feel better spent at a higher class than Economy).
     
  4. noidea

    noidea Junior Member

    Feb 12, 2012
    13
    0
    Thanks The Rok...tried this but the fees were still $850 per person! Unbelievable...
     
  5. noidea

    noidea Junior Member

    Feb 12, 2012
    13
    0
    Thanks so much for explaining this to me...Air New Zealand is an excellent idea...will ring SQ tomorrow and see what they say...points wise I can afford it...I did a quote for a normal fare and the surcharges were in the $400 region for all 4 of us...is that likely to be an indication of what the awards surcharges will be or not necessarily? I have my fingers crossed but maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up! Flight wise this is a much nicer itinerary than the SQ one too...
     
  6. anat0l

    anat0l Enthusiast

    Dec 30, 2006
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    Generally you should be able to get a good idea of what the YQ will be by pricing up a 'normal' fare (i.e. to be paid in cash) and seeing if you can get a tax breakdown that will show the YQ component.

    Of course, some airlines, as I mentioned, integrate the fuel in their base fare through a fare construction mechanism (this is the wrong term but I don't know how to explain it). In this case, fuel surcharges may still be payable on awards, but you may not be able to find out what it is until you try.

    Some airlines - notably the carriers in the USA - do not charge YQ (or significant amounts).

    Sometimes in these cross-alliance redemptions, one carrier will still charge YQ even if the other does not, or charges a smaller amount, or even vv. (e.g. redeeming with a USA carrier's frequent flyer program usually results in very little YQ as those frequent flyer programs tend to either not charge or absorb the cost of YQ even for travel on other carriers where YQ would be charged).

    See how you go with NZ and see if that gives you a more favourable outcome. As I said, given that the cutthroat competition on the Trans-Pacific routes result in low prices, it may be difficult to find a redemption option that you might be "content" with.
     
  7. noidea

    noidea Junior Member

    Feb 12, 2012
    13
    0
    there doesn't seem to be any YR or YQ in the 'additional costs' section so I'm not going to get my hopes up as looks like they might build it into their fare :(
    Thanks again for your help...will update you when I find out the deal!
    And yep I get you re maybe flying to a different destination...make sense. Thanks again.
     
  8. noidea

    noidea Junior Member

    Feb 12, 2012
    13
    0
    Craziness.
    BNE LAX BNE (via AKL) with Air New Zealand has an approx surcharge of $1050 per person.

    Looks like the cheapest option is UA at $201.80 per person but after reading reviews of them I really don't want to travel on them on a longhaul flight with 2 kids.
     
  9. Travel Guru

    Travel Guru Established Member

    Apr 19, 2006
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    While UA isn't my airline of choice, when you're talking about a $3200 tax difference between 4 of you, I'd be going the UA option, buying a couple of ipads, downloading a whole heap of games and movies for the kids and pocketing the change.

    TG
     
  10. noidea

    noidea Junior Member

    Feb 12, 2012
    13
    0
    LOL. Funny that's exactly what my husband said tonight. I suppose I should be happy there is at least an affordable option!
     
  11. mbflyer

    mbflyer Junior Member

    Feb 16, 2012
    11
    2
    I went to book a reward flight MEL-LHR using KrisFlyer miles on Thai Airways and despite Thai having no YQ, the taxes quoted by the SQ agent came to just under S$500, much of which was SQ passing on a YQ charge.

    Other than United, are there any other *A airlines, particularly those flying from/to Asia Pac, that charge minimal taxes/surcharges when booked through KrisFlyer?
     
  12. StevePER

    StevePER Established Member

    Oct 17, 2004
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    KrisFlyer redemptions on NZ are good, eg BHE-AKL-PER in business was S$41.
     
  13. anat0l

    anat0l Enthusiast

    Dec 30, 2006
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    If you book that as a return, surely it must be much more than that due to at least the AU Passenger Charge and then YQ based in Australia..... (curse of the Australian based traveller)
     
  14. noidea

    noidea Junior Member

    Feb 12, 2012
    13
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    #14 noidea, Feb 17, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
    Hmm do you find it odd they quoted me over $1000 per person for air nz bne to lax?
     
  15. anat0l

    anat0l Enthusiast

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    Normally I'd check ITA to find out what the YQ is like, but NZ I believe integrates their fuel charge into the base fare (Q construct), so ITA won't show it and I have no idea how to get at it.

    If the fuel component is anything like QF's YQ charge on SYD-LAX, then perhaps I'm not too surprised, though even after adding auxiliary charges on top I'm not sure how that gets to over $1000 per person. (The quoted price is in AUD right?)

    At over $1000 per person unless it was the silly season I'd almost be tempted to just pay the cash fare...
     
  16. StevePER

    StevePER Established Member

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    I used a Diamond Club redemption for PER-AKL-BHE, and they charged me $85.67. I had assumed Krisflyer would be similar.
     
  17. aikman

    aikman Member

    Sep 19, 2009
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    I get around this by quoting the fare in the other direction eg, LAX-BNE or LAX-BNE-LAX. This is of course assuming YQ is the same per sector regardless of origin except say from Brazil where I believe it is banned. Anyway this method shows NZ's YQ at US$300 in each direction and taxes all up at $717 rt so it still doesn't explain the $1000+ quote.
     
  18. aikman

    aikman Member

    Sep 19, 2009
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    Actually maybe their $1050 quote was in SGD which would be roughly A$770 which would be more believable.

    I recently booked a Krisflyer reward ex MNL via the call centre and they quoted and charged me in SGD.
     
  19. aasz1978

    aasz1978 Member

    Jan 12, 2005
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    Learning the hard way.

    Never ever, transfer point to Singapore Airlines (unless you have to because of the points expiring) because the majority of their tix are Fuel Surcharges and Other Craps and you still have to pay for that even though you transferred your points.

    It's more worthwhile to buy their non-mileage accruing tix and save money.
     
  20. anat0l

    anat0l Enthusiast

    Dec 30, 2006
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    Or, redeem for higher class awards where the cash cost of such tickets usually make points worth it, even with the possibly high co-pay.

    For what it's worth, I redeemed a KrisFlyer First Saver award last year on an SQ flight from SIN to FRA, one-way (on their B747, the only way to get First Saver). The co-pay amount came to just about $200 (when converted to AUD). Even if the co-pay were higher, like $600 (that would be almost egregiously high), the cost of a First Class ticket on that route would still make it worthwhile.

    Economy awards are getting too much of a squeeze on many carriers due to the YQ cost and air fares dropping considerably from days gone by. I know this makes travel quite awkward for those who have to travel in more than 1 let alone a family (e.g. 3-4 or more people).
     
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